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The Bachelorette

How Will Jef Holm and Emily Maynard’s Breakup Affect 7-Year-Old Ricki? — Exclusive

Thankfully, there’s something positive to report amidst all the Bachelor breakup sadness. Both Emily Maynard and her former fiancé, Jef Holm, were spotted spending time with Emily’s seven year-old daughter Ricki in Charlotte this past weekend. While it probably doesn’t mean Emily and Jef – who just announced their split last week – are getting back together, it does look like both are trying to be there for Ricki while she adjusts.

What else can Emily do for her daughter, who has been introduced to not one, but two men as a potential new father figures, only to have things fall apart? New York-based family therapist Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, who does not treat Emily or Ricki, gave us his thoughts based on the situation.

Wetpaint Entertainment: In your opinion, what do you think Ricki’s going through right now?
Dr. Hokemeyer: She’s probably feeling very vulnerable and confused. She's trying to make sense out of all the changes in her life and may even feel responsible for her mother's loss of so many men in such a short period of time.

What’s the best way for Emily (and Jef) to talk to Ricki about the split?
Because children experience their lives in through a "me"-centered lens, they feel responsible for the events that occur around them. This is especially true when there is a split between their mother and a father figure in their lives. When these splits occur, children need to be told that the split is not a result of anything the child did and is strictly a function of mommy's decision to end the relationship because it just wasn't working out. Mothers need not, and should not go into the details of the break up or share any personal information with their children.

How quickly do children get attached at 7 years old? Will she have a tough time recovering from this… Or are kids her age generally resilient?
It depends. What matters is the pattern. Children experience events and make sense out of them by putting them in a context. So if a mother runs through men, the contextual message the child will receive is that men are unstable, unreliable and hurtful. These patterns get imbedded very deeply into a child's brain and can take years of bad decisions to sort out.

Do you think Emily should wait a while before dating again? Or at least introducing suitors to her daughter?
I think that, right now, it’s very important that Emily place her child's needs ahead of her own and focus her energies on ensuring her beautiful daughter feels loved and valued, safe and secure.